The Track Changes and Comments features of a word processing program are very useful for editing or critiquing either your own or another writer's manuscript. Here is a guide to using these features.
Word 2007 : Access Track Changes via the Review Tab on the Office Ribbon
Using Track Changes in MS Word
- Word 2003 : Tools, Track Changes
- Double click TRK on the Status Bar
Track Changes can be used to keep a note of changes you make to a document, particularly if you are not certain you want to keep the changes. It is very useful if you’ve asked another person to edit or comment on your work, and you wish to review their changes before accepting them.
The Insert Comment option is available on the Reviewing Toolbar that pops up when you select Tools, Track Changes.
To hide the comments in a document, click Show on the Reviewing Toolbar, and deselect Comments.
If the person you sent your work to has not used Track Changes while editing your document, you can still view their changes by selecting the option to merge their document into yours.
With the first document open, select:
- Tools, Compare and Merge Documents…
- Select the document for comparison
- Click the down arrow next to Merge and select Merge into Current Document
(You may also be prompted with the option to compare documents if you attempt to save one document with the same filename as an existing document).
Word should turn Track Changes on automatically when the two documents are merged (if it doesn’t, you can still turn it on by double-clicking TRK on the Status Bar if you want to continue noting the changes made to the document).
In Word 2002 upwards, the changes are assigned two different colors: one for the differences highlighted when the documents were merged, and another for any new changes you make to the new merged document.
Changes can be accepted or rejected by right-clicking on the colored text, or the edit in the margin.
Avoid using your original document for any comparison work where you think you might change your mind about the revisions. Make a copy of your document to use instead and save it with a different filename.
Accept or Reject Changes
- Tools, Track Changes…, Accept or Reject changes
Once you are ready to incorporate the changes into your document, the Accept or Reject Changes Menu allows you to jump from change to change in your document with the Find command.
Viewing and accepting or rejecting each change individually gives you far better control over the edit than selecting Accept All or Reject All, but these options are useful if you have read through your edits and are satisfied that you want to keep all changes (or reject them all).
If you have doubts about your changes and want to view your original text without the change present, select Original under View on this menu. This option temporarily hides the changes. If you prefer the original, click Reject to remove the change permanently.
You may want to read the sentence with the change in place, without the distraction of the Track Changes editing marks. To do this, select Changes Without Highlighting under View on the Accept or Reject Changes Menu.
You can toggle between the Changes Without Highlighting and Original views if you have trouble choosing between the two versions of your text.
A quicker option to using the Accept or Reject Changes Menu is to right-click a specific insertion or deletion and select Accept or Reject from the drop-down menu.
This article was first published on The Blood-Red Pencil. Copyright © Elsa Neal, 2009.